US President ordered killing of Iran Guards commander Qasem Soleimani: Pentagon

US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, who died in Baghdad "in a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad," the Pentagon said Thursday.

"General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more," the Department of Defense said.

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon said.

Following Soleimani's death, Trump tweeted an image of the US flag without any further explanation.

The head of Iran's elite Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, has been killed alongside six others following a US airstrike at Baghdad's international airport on Thursday. Besides Soleimani, Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack, reported Iraqi officials and state television.

Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), which is a grouping of Iran-backed militias, has also confirmed the killing of Soleimani and Muhandis. Al Jazeera has reported that the incident appeared to be a targeted strike and according to sources the rockets destroyed two vehicles carrying "high profile guests".

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